Reaching Climate Milestones
The Success of the Nature Restoration Law is echoed across Central and Eastern Europe as project partners report positive progress towards achieving the goal of a climate-neutral EU
Most notably, Latvia’s Green Liberty reports the completion of the public consultation for RePower, meaning that they can move forward with producing a comprehensive plan. Slovenia marches on ahead, with Slatinka celebrating the official enactment of RePower. Other countries, such as Bulgaria, face more significant obstacles, with the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) delay. Nonetheless, it is clear there is significant momentum when it comes to climate legislation in the EU.
On July 18, 2023, a key meeting took place as part of the project "Towards a Climate-Neutral EU: Efficient Allocation of EU Funds." The project, funded by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI), aims to support the efficient use of EU money for the environment and climate by disseminating information on best practices. This meeting was attended by representatives of various European NGOs, each providing a detailed update on the progress made in their respective countries.
This week marks a significant milestone in the Europe-wide fight against climate change as the European Environmental Bureau announces that the European Parliament voted in favour of the EU Nature Restoration Law. This news is a substantial victory for environmentalists across the continent as it sets binding targets to reverse human-induced damages. However, there is still work to be done, as the EEB also raised concerns about the risks associated with PFAS, a prevalent but potentially harmful group of chemicals.
Many of the positive updates on the national level involved the RePowerEU plan, which aims to reduce European dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Implementing this plan would not only safeguard citizens from energy shortages but would also increase the use of renewable energy sources. Slovenia's Umanotera officially enacted RePower, a significant achievement that suggests the country is moving in the right direction for achieving its climate goals. Latvia’s Green Liberty is not far behind, having completed public consultation for the plan, meaning that a comprehensive draft can now be completed. Additionally, Focus Eco Center from Romania has been dynamically engaging in meetings with stakeholders and monitoring the evolutions of RePower and NRRP. However, they reported the need for further clarification on the use of the DNSH principle.
CDE from the Czech Republic reported the official submission of the Czech NRRP to the European Commission, a significant milestone in their journey towards a climate-neutral country. The establishment of a Subcommittee on transparency and civil society involvement also reflects their commitment to an inclusive approach. Meanwhile, Poland's ISD revealed their plans for the full application of the DNSH principle, indicating a commitment to environmental responsibility. The organization also highlighted their involvement in working groups, suggesting an active role in shaping environmental policies. However, they are facing the challenge of implementing new Taxonomy files, which may require significant resources and expertise.
Both Hungary’s CEEweb and Slovakia’s Slatinka report productive meetings with governing officials. CEEweb has made considerable strides in the RePower initiative and NECPs. Still, their most noteworthy achievement was their recent meeting with Zita Herman, the advisor for budgets in Brussels, which signals potential future collaboration and policy alignment. Slatinka reported a productive meeting with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and the submission of constructive comments on the NECP draft. This indicates an active involvement in policy discussions and decision-making processes. Their highlight was the expressed interest of the Green Economy Department in collaborating on wind energy development, opening a new avenue for renewable energy in Slovakia.
Despite the overall positive tone of the meeting, many countries are still facing challenges when it comes to the development and implementation of climate legislation. Bulgaria's EPI is operating amidst a potential setback due to the postponement of the NECP and TJTP, However, they are pressing on with lobbying work on Renewables Law Amendments. Hungary's Clean Air Action Group (CAAG) is also dealing with significant struggles as they found it necessary to file a formal complaint to the Commission on the "non-regression principle," suggesting some issues at the regulatory level.
This meeting presented a nuanced picture of the progress towards a climate-neutral EU. Much has been achieved, both at the EU level, with the survival of the Nature Restoration Law, and at the National level, with the progress made with the RePower initiative. Nonetheless, there is still an uphill climb ahead.